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Wednesday, September 30, 1998 Published at 22:54 GMT 23:54 UK


Serbs dismiss Nato threats

UN's Sadako Ogata met President Milosevic last week

Belgrade has defiantly dismissed threats of Nato military action over Kosovo and accused Western media of presenting a distorted picture of events in the province, amid international outrage over massacres of up to 31 Kosovo Albanians.

The Serbian interior ministry insisted that police actions in Kosovo were aimed "exclusively against terrorists," the Yugoslav state news agency Tanjug reported.

The ministry said it would investigate the killings of civilians in the Gornje Obrinje and Vucitern areas of Kosovo.

Tough resistance to Nato

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister, Vojislav Seselj, said the Yugoslav Army would take appropriate action against any Nato attack, using weapons such as surface-to-surface rockets, the independent Belgrade-based news agency Beta reported.

Mr Seselj, who is also leader of the nationalist Serbian Radical Party, said the authorities would announce a full mobilisation if foreign ground forces intervened in Serbia.

The army, said Mr Seselj, "is ready to stage appropriate resistance to a Nato attack if it takes place, including ... modern armaments, such as surface-to-surface rockets".

He added that the Serbian Government had not achieved key parts of its programme in the past six months, "because large quantities of money are being allocated for the struggle against the Shiptar terrorists".

German offer of Tornado jets 'rash'

In Bonn, Yugoslav Ambassador Zoran Jeremic denounced the outgoing German cabinet's decision to offer 14 Tornado fighter-bombers for use in a possible Nato action over Kosovo, the German news agency ddpADN reported.

Mr Jeremic said the offer - not yet approved by the German parliament - was "completely wrong and rash".

He accused outgoing German Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, of assuming a "pioneering role" in international policies against Yugoslavia.

Any pressure should be directed against the Albanian separatists, Mr Jeremic said, asking why German soldiers should risk their lives for a "greater Albania".

No defence against cruise missiles

A report in the independent Belgrade daily 'Dnevni telegraf' on Sunday said the Yugoslav army was defenceless against cruise missile attacks.

A senior Yugoslav army expert quoted by the paper said the army "has neither the technical nor financial capabilities to respond effectively to possible Nato missile attacks".

Yugoslavia lacks the "very effective" Russian anti-missile systems Antey-24 and S-300 for countering Tomahawks, the expert said.

Media 'distortions'

Belgrade has continued denouncing Western media coverage of events in Kosovo.

Serbia's Deputy Information Minister, Miodrag Popovic, said on Wednesday that some "ill-intentioned" foreign news agencies and media were using information from international humanitarian organisations working in Kosovo to back up "their own infrequently untrue and false allegations".

Mr Popovic, quoted by Tanjug, said this was particularly true regarding figures for the number of ethnic Albanian refugees in Kosovo.

He made the remarks after a meeting with representatives from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Belgrade.

Mr Popovic said the IFRC and UNHCR representatives were offered evidence that a "performance" had been staged in the Kosovo village of Resnik for the UNHCR chief Sadako Ogata.

"Alleged" ethnic-Albanian refugees gathered in the village to leave Ms Ogata with the wrong impression of the humanitarian situation in the province, he said.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.



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